Tuesday, December 11, 2012

37 Things...

The silence has been deafening and enlightening all at the same time.  I pretty much disappeared when I returned to work in October.  I'm sorry to have left all 2 of my loyal readers in the lurch about my shortcomings and goings.  I will try to get better about blogging.

Need the outlet.  Will be good for my sanity. (Repeat)

Around the Amen household, we are all losing our minds a bit.  No, wait, that may just be me :-)

Working full time plus some with a gross daily commute, two kids in daycare, the four year old in activities 2x per week, teaching catechism, husband working & volunteering at church, husband getting a new job that may have him gone 3 weeks/month and me being (finally) promoted at work has got me spinning like a chanukah dreidel.  At least I'm getting back to my Jewish roots.

Speaking of roots, I am thinking about changing my hairstyle dramatically.  Will I do it?  Will I instantly regret it?  Will it give me one more thing to fret about?  Not sure, absolutely and most definitely.

Anyhow, the lovely Ashley Jones gave me an idea recently, and I thought, "Hey, I can do that", so I have done that.  Ashley just celebrated her 26th birthday and for her birthday she made a list of 26 things about herself that we should know.  Well, I just celebrated my 37th birthday and I figured I could make a list of 37 things about myself that are mildly amusing, interesting or none of the above, so here goes:

37
I am tall.  Not freakishly so, but taller than most ladies.

36
I like my freckles...always have, always will.

35
I always think I would like to live on a farm...

34
But I am scared to DEATH of bugs; I don't like dirt; and I dislike going outside.

33
In addition to getting my MBA, I moved to Oklahoma to find a cowboy to marry.

32
I married a Salvadoran instead.  Best decision ever.

31
I cover my ears when I see a bug...because I'm scared (makes perfect sense, no?).

30
I cried once thinking about an ice cream sundae.  In my defense, I was pregnant and diabetic at the time.

29
I don't think it is really dessert unless it is made of chocolate.

28
I enjoy public speaking.  If you think that's sick...just wait, it gets worse.

27
I like to read legal contracts and documents.

26
I like to read laws, rules and regulations even more.

25
I alphabetize all kinds of stuff.  Even when it doesn't make sense.

24
My kids' real first names have the same vowels in the same order.

23
I am allergic to all fish products and alcohol; but if I wasn't, I would still stay away from one of these things and drink the other like I was the thing I would stay away from (not every day...just some (many) days).

22
Despite getting 5 calls a day for Ja'meal, no one named Ja'meal lives at our residence.

21
I once went skydiving because I was angry that my boyfriend went to Paris without me.

20
I can move my eyes independently of one another.

19
The boys in my 5th grade catechism class think I'm pretty cool because I showed them # 20.

18
Sometimes, I let my kid eat Peppermint Patties and popsicles for dinner.

17
I can cuss like a sailor, but feel really badly when I do (mostly in the car at other drivers.)

16
I love to let my niece and nephews be CRAZY loud at my house; I think it irritates my brother, whom I adore. 

15
I make my sister hold my hand in public because it annoys her so much (I adore her too!)

14
I love to watch sad movies.

13
I used to be the equipment manager for my high school's football team.

12
If I could have any other career, I'd choose to be an OB.

11
If I didn't have to have a career at all, I'd love to homeschool my kids.

10
And I would really like to have a dozen of them.

9
I am a Mou.ntain Dew girl through and through.

8
I actually enjoy discussing canon law.

7
I drive my dream car - a minivan.

6
I wear super high heels because I find them more comfortable than tennis shoes.

5
I try to save up my printing at work so I only have to walk to the printer once per day.

4
I wish I could live in an all white house - white walls, white furniture, white dishes, white linens, white carpet.

3
Scratch that, make it all brown.  So you can't see when I spill my chocolate ice cream all over.

2
You probably shouldn't ask me anything when I am at work because the answer will be "NO".

1
I don't like to be touched.  Like ever.  That's probably the hardest part of being a wife and mom is that my husband and kids want to touch me all the time.

So there are 37 things about me that you never wanted to know, but now you do and you can't un-know them.

More later - PEACE OUT!

Friday, October 12, 2012

7 Quick Takes (vol. 7)






Random updates from the Amen household:

(1)
I am going back to work next week.


And I have been crying for a week about it.  I cried when Junior awoke from his nap yesterday and crawled up on my lap for cuddles.  I cried this morning when he threw a tantrum, then crawled up in my lap for cuddles while I was feeding his baby sister.  I cried as I cuddled Celia to sleep last night.  You might think cuddling is the trigger here, but I also cried on our way to the costume store to get Junior's "Idur Man" costume (that's I.ron Man for those of you not familiar with his sometimes wonky pronunciation).


The kids are going to daycare full-time starting Monday even though I'm not back at work until Thursday.  Reason?  A few.  (a) we have to pay for a full week anyhow so they might as well go, (b) it'll give me a three days to go shopping and buy work appropriate clothes (impossible with Junior in tow), (c) I will be able to get a pedicure - goodbye talons, and (d) I might get a chance to get a nap in to rid myself of these pesky sleepless mommy under-eye bags.

(2)
Congratulations are in order!  At my six week post-partum appointment my doctor had me complete the post-partum depression questionnaire.  I passed.

Well, if "passed" means "you're definitely on the spectrum", then I did indeed "passed." 


It also means I get to take Zol.oft like their Ti.c Tacs.  Just kidding.  Not really.  I can' recommend this medication.  It's been three weeks and I don't really feel that it's making any difference.
Fuzzy pic of something that should make me feel like somebody that I used to know

This take might be contributing to the intensity of take #1.

(3)
I'm on an organizing mission this fall.  I started following the FlyLa.dy and decluttering.  It's going slowly (see take #1 above), but it is helpful that she recommends working in 15 minute increments.  I find I can actually do things for 15 minutes at a time.  And, let's be honest, with the two needlets running around (or sitting like a bump on a log in one adorable little girl's case), that's the maximum amount of time I have available to do anything.

I think the system is actually making a difference for me by giving me something to focus on.  It also recommends getting dressed to lace-up shoes every morning - when I do that, my days do go better.

Mr. Amen isn't totally on board yet.  He still wants to work on organizing, but he thinks that I think that he thinks the 15 minutes at a time idea is crazy.  He wants to focus on things for longer stretches of time...but that's insanity - we don't have that luxury.

(4)
A sample weekly schedule once I return to work illustrating that, at most, we can only find 15 minutes at a time to do anything:

Monday:  Both he and I must awaken by 5am to get everyone out the door on-time between 7:00-7:15am.  After drop offs, head to work (him: 7:30 arrival, me: 8am arrival).  Work all stinkin' day.  Leave work (me: 5:00-5:30pm, him:  5:30-6:00pm).  Pick up mini-us from daycare.  Run in the door long enough to change Junior into gymnastics clothes, pick up his snack & juice and pile back into the car by 6:20pm to leave for gymnastics.  One parent at squirrel herding gymnastics class with Junior from 6:45pm-7:30pm, while other parent manages to make a decent edible semi-dinner whilst (favorite word) managing the care of the infant (read:  if Mr. Amen is the @ home parent, we'll have cereal or scrambled eggs, if I am the @ home parent, we'll have pancakes or grilled cheese and tomato soup).  Family dinner at 8:00pm.  Bedtime routine starts for the short Amens at 8:30pm.  Start dishwasher (if it has actually been loaded right after baths finish).  Boy bathed and in bed (for the first time) and girl bathed and ready for final feeding by 9pm.  Parents work feverishly to finish dishes, laundry, bill paying, cleaning and prepping for the Tuesday's launch before collapsing somewhere in the general vicinity of 11pm.  Except for when Mr. Amen has KofC, then I'm on my own with the terrific twosome and no one, and I mean no one will have a decent dinner.  I promise.

Tuesday:  Same as Monday, except instead of gymnastics at 6:45pm, I teach 5th grade boys catechism at 6:45pm.  Mr. Amen enjoys an evening of sticky hands and the sweet smell of spit-up.

Wednesday:  Same as Monday and Tuesday, except instead of gymnastics or catechism, it's swim lessons.  At 6:30pm.  And we're tired exhausted zombies.


Thursday:  Eh, nevermind...I don't think we are gonna make it that far into the week.

(5)
Back in take #1 I mentioned the kids returning to daycare and reason (a) for them starting on Monday was that we were paying for the full week anyhow...so off they go.  Does it sound mean to anyone but me that if I'm paying, I want the daycare ladies to do something for that money?  The weekly cost for daycare, with a 10% family discount, is going to be $421.20.  That doesn't include the enrichment classes we put Junior in so he has something to break up his day and squeeze in a little extra learnin'.

Oh yeah, approximately $24,000 per year for childcare.  Should just enroll them in the local university.  It would be cheaper.



(6)
Anyone besides us enjoy Form.ula 1 racing?  Mr. Amen is 5 weeks away from going to his first race.  Austin, TX is hosting a race the weekend before Thanksgiving and Mr. Amen will be in attendance.  He and his good friend have been planning this trip for a year.  They are even going to an Ae.rosmith concert while there.  Am I jealous?  No.  Yes.  No.  No.  Maybe.  But only of the sleep he will be getting without the kickboxing champion with whom we share a bed.


(7)
I know we're a mere 2+ months away from Christmas, but I'll give you a sneak peak at my Christmas list.  

If for no other reason than to get the telescope out of the dining room:
That's right...a dining room table with chairs would be amazing. 
Or, a sofa/sectional for the family room
A dresser for me?  Thamks, you shouldn't have.
See above for the lovely dresser my husband assembled...realizing as he attempted to insert the bottom drawer that he had put one of the first pieces together upside down and the drawer wouldn't fit in the hole.  So, no drawer for me...for 3 years now, no drawer for me.

Now go visit Jen for more QuickTakes and make some new friends

Friday, September 28, 2012

Quick Takes (vol. 6)


This version of Quick Takes is dedicated to the things Junior has said recently that made me smile.  Speaking of smiles...look who is intentionally smiling these days:

My child has a dimple!

(1)
While listening to "Enter S.and.man" by Meta.llica one evening, instead of "we're off to never, neverland", Junior sang, "I'm off to buy a rubberband."  I guess all that metal music I treated him to in utero didn't take.  Sad face!

Yes, I know that song is not exactly child friendly, but we were looking for songs with strong drumlines to encourage Junior in his drum practice.

Celia sleeps through the daily pounding practices and concerts.  Lucky girl!

video
The day he got his drum set...he's much better now.

(2)
After slamming his head on the recliner in the family room while we were rough-housing, I apologized for getting him too close to the chair and said, "I feel terrible."  While holding a bag of frozen green beans to his forehead, he responded, "me too!"

Healing in process

(3)
As Celia slept in my arms after polishing off her 3rd 4 ounce bottle of the day before noon (she's a little piggy!), he climbed up next to me and sat on the arm of the recliner.  He looked sweetly at her, leaned in really close to her face as if he was going to kiss her, and shouted, "BABY SISTER, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP, YOU JUST HAVE TO GO TO SLEEP!"  His logic is unassailable.  We are frequently treated to such preschool logic as, "if you fall off your chair, you have to just fall off your chair", or "if you drink all your water, then all your water is gone."



(4)
While taking his pajama shirt off, it got stuck around the top of his giant Belgian head.  He let it dangle down, looked at himself in the mirror and started dancing & singing "Happy Birthday to Junior."  Strange child.

(5)
As he gazed as his adorable baby sister lying on the floor..."Hello, precious!"  Then he promptly looked at me and said, "Hey, how do we get her cradles off?"  Yes, Celia has cradle "crap", as misprnounced by her big brother.  And all her hair on top is falling out :-(  That's OK.  Same thing happened with Junior, his hair grew in thick and waterproof (like a duck) in no time.



(6)
"Mom, when I talked to Jesus, I ate all my food.  Maybe I need to be locked in."  Huh?  Exactly.  We were driving past our church so that's where the Jesus part came from.  We had eaten food that day and would eat again in a few hours (truly, I have no idea) so that's where the food part came from.  The locked in part came from last year during Lent when he got locked in the Narthex after Stations of the Cross because he wasn't listening.  We walked out assuming he'd follow us, and he did, only he couldn't open the door because he wasn't strong enough, and it was locked so we couldn't open it from the outside either.  When we finally got him out, he said, "Jesus locked me in to talk to me because I wasn't listening?"  If only.

(7)
 Junior:  "Momma, are we going to church today?"
Me:  "Yes"
Junior:  "YAY!" while clapping and jumping up and down.

Does it get better than that?

Ignore the "pierced side", we had chocolate ice cream for lunch and it mostly melted all over him.


Now go check out Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes from much more talented and interesting bloggers :-)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thanks for the Mammaries...

"I think she wants mama's milk," Junior said to me.

"AAAAAHHHHHH!"  I screamed in pain as my daugther latched on to my breast.  My three year old jumped up from his seat, a horrified look on his face.  "Are you crying mommy?"

This was the scene in our family room the last time I nursed my baby.

I have studied the Theo.logy of the Body.  I know that God gave me these fine mammaries with which I can feed my children.  I didn't nurse Junior, save a few painful episodes, rather I pumped for a month, got barely enough daily for one bottle, then he was exclusively formula fed.  My reasons for not nursing him were many; he didn't latch well, I had a difficult recovery after my c-section, and I was stressed more than normal, which caused my milk supply to dwindle hopelessly into oblivion.

During this most recent pregnancy, I concentrated on getting psyched up for two things...1) a vaginal birth, and 2) breastfeeding.  The VBAC was a success and was relatively easy for me to accomplish.  Breastfeeding was my next hurdle.  I reviewed materials I had received during the breastfeeding class I took when I was pregnant with Junior, I did some reading on-line to review holds and what to expect.  I took some great advice from some lovely bloggers, Justine and Jenelle, both of whom are amazing mothers who have successfully nursed their children.

I didn't even get bottles out at home to force myself to breastfeed and not give up out of convenience.  I only supplemented with formula in the hospital at the insistence of the doctors because of a diabetes medicine I had been taking which causes the baby to have low blood sugar.  I still put her to the breast before giving her about 15cc of formula one drop at a time from a cup.  She was born on Thursday evening and my milk came in Sunday.  Despite having bleeding nipples and being in excruciating pain and having managed to feed the baby about 12 times on Sunday, I had developed a painful mastitis by Monday morning.  I went in to see the doctor right away and was put on antibiotics and told to nurse through it, do massage and use warm compresses to alleviate the pressure and pain in the blocked duct.  It was a physically, mentally and emotionally draining experience.

I nursed through it.  I finished my course of antibiotics.  When Celia was about 10 days old, it finally got a little better.  I thought we were finally beginning to hit our stride and I would be able to do this.  Although it was getting better, Celia was wanting to nurse every hour and a half.  This meant that I would spend about an hour nursing her, get a break for about half an hour, then she would be screaming again for more.  I would literally pray that she would stay asleep so I wouldn't have to hold her (my breasts and nipples were really sore) and that I wouldn't have to feed her again so soon.  I cried during each feeding because of the pain.  I felt like the worst mother ever for wanting to quit nursing, for not wanting to hold my baby, for dreading her cries.  I felt like we weren't bonding because of the pain I was experiencing.


Although I drank over 100 oz of water each day, drank the herbal Moth.er's Milk T.ea, tried my best to eat a decent diet, my supply started dwindling again.  I added pumpings in-between nursing sessions (wasn't getting much).  I continued to nurse the baby 10-12 times per day.  When she cried after each session, turning purple from the intensity of her screams, I gave in and gave her a bottle.  She sucked down 2-3 ounces quickly and was finally satisfied.  She didn't seem to be getting enough at the breast. 

I am completely on board with the self-donative style of parenting (sometimes confused with attachment parenting).  The core of the self-donative parenting philosophy is that I (and my husband) should be willing to give up my wants in order to fulfill my children's needs.  I am committed to this type of parenting.

I struggled, thinking I was being selfish for not wanting to continue nursing.  I know breast milk is the best food for my baby, I also knew that we were not bonding.  I was an emotional wreck, crying and sobbing through each feeding.  My mental health was suffering.  Was I not willing to give up my wants (wanting to be relatively pain-free) to do what my baby needed?  The guilt was overwhelming and flooded my entire being.  I cried out to God to help me get through it; I prayed that I wouldn't be in pain, that I wouldn't be selfish, that I would be strong enough to be the mother my child needed me to be.

Finally, on her one month birthday, she latched on and I screamed in pain and the tears started to flow.  I wasn't able to be the mother she needed while I was breastfeeding.  The pain, stress and worry was causing me not to produce the milk needed to nourish her physically; the pain was causing me to distance myself from her emotionally, resent her legitimate needs and not be there to nourish her emotionally.  I knew what I had to do.  I was finally able to admit that I wasn't being selfish, I wasn't putting my "wants" ahead of her needs. Stable mental and emotional health are essential to my well-being.  They are essential to me being the mother she needs; one that wants to hold and cuddle her, one that doesn't cry at the sound of her cries, one that wants to be with her rather than chase the setting sun to escape.

In the end, we went cold-turkey to formula.  It wasn't easy.  Though I wasn't producing much milk, I still became engorged and went through almost a week of pain as my body realized it could stop producing all together.  I cried at her 1-month pediatrician appointment out of guilt when I admitted we had stopped breastfeeding.  Celia is much more content and is finally gaining weight (almost in 0-3 month size clothes!).  At last, I am able to hold her without being in pain.  I can even hold my big boy again (helpful during his incredible 3 year old tantrums).  She is still up at night and doesn't go more than 3 hours without eating, so I am not getting more sleep than I was before the switch.  Best of all, we are bonding!

In the end, I had to do this for my own mental health and the emotional health of my family.  To those moms that can breastfeed...I have a healthy envy for you.  I wish I could do what you do and I tried, but I can't.  My self-donative parenting is looking a little different than I planned and hoped, but I am still committed to this lifestyle and am just going to keep going one step at a time and making decisions that are right for me and my family.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Grief Amidst the Joy

The grief of losing some of my children overwhelmed me at the birth of my daughter.

As I sat in the hospital the first morning after Celia was born, I checked the Nat.ional Cath.olic Regi.ster blog round-up and found a review for a book I'd been looking forward to.  It's a book on miscarriage from a Catholic perspective.  It was a very bad idea for me to read that review right after giving birth.  It was still dark out, I had just nursed her (ouch!) and it was raining.

I thought about our children that aren't here so that Celia can be.  I cried and cried.  I said a prayer to each of our little ones asking them to pray for us, thanking them and God for letting me be their momma.  I miss my children every day, I am grateful for the gift of Celia to our family.

It's such a paradox to miss them so much and wish that each and every one of them was here with us, yet knowing that if they were, this sweet child I get to hold in my arms today wouldn't be here at all.

Our son, José, would have been about 13 months old had he lived to be born in this world.  We would probably not have been trying to get pregnant and Celia wouldn't have been born had he stayed here on Earth with us.

Our daughter, María, would have been about 6 months old when Celia was born.  Our other daughter, Sophie would have been about 3 months old when Celia was born.

I don't know why the Lord sent us these children that would not live with us here.  Whatever their purpose in their brief lives, I feel certain that they accomplished what the Lord asked of them before they returned to Him.  Though their lives were short and lived entirely within my womb, they were no less meaningful than any other. 

These children of mine have firmed my resolve to do my best here on Earth, so that I can hear the words, "well done my good and faithful servant" at the end of my life and join them in eternity with Christ.  I will do the best I can to help my husband and my other living children make it to heaven so our family can all be together.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Baby Alice's Birth Story

On Wednesday evening, August 8th, I wasn't feeling well when I got home from work.  We rushed right back out the door almost as soon as we arrived to take Junior to his swim class.  After getting home around 7:20pm or so we had a quick dinner (Ric.e Kr.ispies for Junior with a banana, and bean and cheese quesadillas for Mr. Amen and me).  I still wasn't feeling quite myself so I went to lay down at 8pm.  I quickly fell asleep and stayed there for the rest of the night.

Around 2am, I woke up having mild contractions.  No big deal, I thought, I had been having contractions for weeks.  Junior cried for me, so I went in his room to lay down with him until he went back to sleep.  At about 2:40am, I crawled out of his bed and wandered out into the kitchen.  I couldn't sleep so I checked the blogs, did some online reading and then headed back to bed around 3:30am.  The contractions were not very strong and were only coming every 20 minutes or so.  I figured they'd pitter out eventually, like they'd done so many times already.

We got up and got ready for the day at our usual time.  I was still having contractions and told Mr. Amen that I thought I was potentially in early labor.  His response, classic Mr. Amen, "OK, well tonight then we really need to clean up our room and dust in there."  I politely told him, "I don't know if there will be a 'tonight'.  Honey, I don't think you're listening to me, I said, I think I'm in labor.  Today could be the day."

I dropped Junior off at daycare and headed back to our house.  My mom was coming to pick me up at 8am to take me to the hospital for my scheduled non-stress test and ultrasound.  For some reason, my family doesn't trust me to be alone at the end of a pregnancy.  They have this strange fear that I won't call them in time or that I'll drive myself to the hospital saying I didn't think I was in "real" labor.  They know me well.

My mom arrived at the house right on time and took one look at me and pronounced me in labor, with a quick, "You look terrible, you're in labor."  We left for the hospital and they were running far behind so we had the ultrasound first.  Baby girl was being quite uncooperative and waited to show off her mad breathing skillz until the last 30 seconds of the test.  They weren't ready for me in the non-stress room yet, so we went to sit in the waiting room.  While we were there I was having more contractions, maybe every 12-15 minutes.  They were getting more intense and my mom thought it would be funny to take a picture of me during one and send it to my sister and dad, telling them that she thought I was in labor.  She thought it would also be a good warning to my sister to re-evaluate her life plans (she has mentioned AI to have a baby next year and she isn't married).  The picture was truly horrifying - I looked like a manatee passing a bowling ball.

Anyhow, they finally got me in for the non-stress test.  This test, if you aren't familiar, consists of mom sitting in a recliner with two monitors on her belly - one listening to the baby's heart beat, the other measuring mom's contractions.  There's also a little button mom is supposed to push when baby kicks.  Non-stress...just sit back and relax.  While I was sitting there I had several contractions probably 8-10 minutes apart and I was hoping they would see that I was in labor and keep me.  When the nurse came in, I said, "I'm having pretty good contractions."  She shrugged and said, "Not too impressive, but we'll see what the doctor says."  The on-call doctor from my practice came in and looked at the strip and said I could leave.  I said, "But I'm having good contractions."  She responded that they weren't that good and that I could always come back if they got closer together or worse.  I told her that I really thought I was in labor and asked when I should come back exactly.  She said when they are 5 minutes apart or if I am really uncomfortable.  I asked, "even if I have a history of dilating quickly?  I am a VBAC."  She sort of laughed at me and said to come back when they're worse and sent me away.

Of course, here in Michigan, where we've had a sweltering summer of weather in the 90s without a break, it was rainy and in the 60s.  I was sweating though, so my breezy cotton skirt and tank top were just fine with me.  My mom and I left and went to an outdoor mall to shop for nursing pajamas (yes, I waited until the last minute...I had three nursing night gowns, but they all shrunk).   While we were in the store I would have to stop walking and talking with each contraction; my mom was dutifully timing them on her watch.  She didn't say anything about how far apart they were unless I asked...they were still 8-10 minutes apart, but getting stronger.

While we were shopping, I saw night gowns that reminded me of my grandmothers, both of whom are deceased.  I couldn't control myself and started crying.  Ridiculous because neither of them were particularly good grandmothers, not affectionate or caring, but still I cried because I missed them.

We went to lunch and when we got there my mom said it was my "last meal."  I found that funny, thinking it was probably false labor and would stall out any minute.

After lunch was over, my contractions were a good 7-8 minutes apart and still getting stronger.  I called Mr. Amen, who was going to meet me at our doctor's office for my 39 week appointment, and asked him to stop at the house and bring our labor bag...just in case.  While I was on the phone with him, my mom saw a friend from her church and said, "It's good to see you, but I can't talk, my daughter is in labor."  I was totally embarrassed, because I still thought I was being overly dramatic and that there was no way I was in labor.  I mean, I had just gotten sent away from the hospital.

We arrived at the doctor's office and sat down in the waiting room.  Mr. Amen arrived a few minutes late, but we waited another half hour before seeing the doctor.  In the examining room I was telling Mr. Amen about my crying episode at the store and started crying all over again.  The doctor walked in and asked Mr. Amen what he had said or done to me to make me cry (he was joking); then he said he's have to send me out the back way because he didn't want me crying through his waiting room frightening the other patients.  It made me laugh.  I said that I thought I was in early labor and he went to check me but I was having a contraction (he could see my stomach all balled up) so he gave me a minute or two for it to pass then he checked me.  I was at 4-5cm and he asked when was the last time I had an ultrasound or non-stress test.  I told him I was just at the hospital and they didn't believe that I was in labor and had sent me away.  He said, "well, they shouldn't have sent you away.  You are in labor and a VBAC so we have to have you on the monitors.  Go straight to the hospital, I will call them to let them know you are coming."  Our baby was coming!!

We were really excited and couldn't believe it was here.  I threw my skirt back on and we quickly went out to get my mom.  We stopped at the bathroom again on our way out and I gave my mom my purse to take home.  I called daycare to let them know that my mom would be picking up Junior and my husband called work to let them know he wasn't coming back.  I called my dad and my brother and sister to let them know we were in labor and headed to the hospital.  I also called our doula, Bonnie, and told her we were going to the hospital.  She lives about an hour away from the hospital and I had put her on alert before the doctor appointment so she could be ready to leave if we needed her.

We arrived at the hospital at 2:15pm and were getting settled in our Labor, Delivery and Recovery room.  Mr. Amen took a picture of me in front of the clock and I was smiling, but as soon as the flash went off, I doubled over with a contraction.  It took forever to get changed and through the admittance questions.   Our doula, Bonnie, arrived at about 3:15 or 3:30 and she and Mr. Amen were a fantastic support team.  The doctor (the same one who had sent me home earlier) finally came in at 4pm to check me and break my water.  I was in the middle of a contraction when she said what she was going to do so I just agreed.  My husband and Bonnie said that they thought I had talked to Dr. Greene (my doctor) about not having my water broken.  I said "yes" because I was still in the middle of a contraction and couldn't really focus.  Bonnie and Mr. Amen were pushing on my back in a strange way saying, "you talked about this with Dr. Greene, didn't you?"  Finally, the contraction was over and I snapped out of it, "yes, I told Dr. Greene I didn't want my water broken.  I want to have it break on its own."  The doctor seemed irritated and said she would just check me instead.  I was 6cm dilated and 80% effaced.  After she was done checking me she said, "This is where your labor stalled out last time.  I'll come back at 6 to check you again to see if you've made any progress.  Don't get your hopes up."  Ahhh...the bedside manner...if only every doctor could be so kind and compassionate.

From 4pm to 5pm, I was up out of bed doing lunges during contractions, leaning over the birthing ball, which was perched on the hospital bed, and on all fours in the hospital bed rocking back and forth.  At one point, Bonnie was doing "dimple presses" on my lower back during a contraction and when it was over, asked if it was helping.  I said it made the contraction pain worse, but that I liked it because the pain meant it was doing more.  She just laughed and said I was cute...she didn't know what to do with a crazy person like me.

At 5pm, I was in so much pain.  I had gone completely natural up to this point.  I had had an epidural from almost the first moment the pitocin started with my son.  I hadn't really experienced labor pain, so I didn't know how rough it would get.  This time, I didn't have pitocin because labor was going great all on its own, but I also didn't have any pain medicine.  I started to say that I didn't think I could do this anymore.  With each contraction, I just said, "No, no, no, no, no, no" over and over again.  Even though, in my head, I realized I was in transition, I couldn't stop myself from asking for something to take the edge off the pain.  The doctor had to check me before I could have anything.  She said I was at 8cm dilated and 100% effaced.  I was offered IV pain medicine or an epidural.  I asked for the IV medicine because I didn't think I could sit still for the epidural and even though the pain was terrible, I was actually enjoying the feeling of going through labor.  I wanted to experience it so badly, I just needed something to take the bite off the top off the contractions.  The doctor said that if I wanted an epidural, I had to have it now, there wouldn't be another chance.  I hesitated for a brief moment, and the thought ran through my mind that I didn't want to disappoint Mr. Amen after all the hard work he had done to ease my pain.  I refused the epidural and instead opted for the IV medicine.  It seems like it took forever for it to arrive and I just remember asking what what taking so long for the medicine to get there.  I probably got the medicine at 5:40pm or so...and I don't think it did any good at all.  The contractions continued to be just as painful as before they administered the medicine...so maybe that means that they were actually much worse and I didn't feel them getting worse.  I really believe though that the medicine didn't have any effect on me until after I delivered.

Moments before 6pm, Mr. Amen asked the doula how we'd know when I was ready to push.  Our doula said that I would start "singing a different song with each contraction."  Just as she finished saying that a contraction started and instead of my incessant whining about the pain, there was just a low gutteral growl.  Mr. Amen was shocked and Bonnie said, "See, I told you.  A different song."  The nurse quickly checked me and said that I had a tiny lip of cervix left and to not to push yet.  She was telling me to pant, she was giving me a pant, pant, blow pattern to follow (hee, hee, whoooooo).  I was so out of it, I was doing a blow, blow, pant pattern.  I knew I was doing it wrong, but I just couldn't concentrate.  Bonnie had a warm compress pressed up against my bottom.  I remember thinking that it felt really good to have some pressure from the outside there.  The doctor came in to check me and my water broke as she did so.  There was meconium in the fluid, which means the baby had pooped already.  They told me not to push so they could page the neo-natalogist to check the baby immediately after birth. 

They had me turn onto my back and put my feet in the stirrups.  I remember them trying to get the absorbent mats underneath me and them asking me to lift my bottom up off the bed to do so.  I remember thinking it was so bizarre to have all these strangers in the room and I didn't even care that they were seeing parts of me that only my husband and doctor have ever seen - but at that point, I was beyond all attempts at modesty.  I started pushing with each contraction.  Luckily none of the nurses or doctor asked me to do the whole hold-your-breath-while-we-count-to-10-really-slowly thing.  I had already told my doula that that wasn't going to work for me.  I knew I would just wind up with a splitting headache and passing out if I had to hold my breath.  With each push I just gave a low growl and let the air out.  As I was pushing, my doula told me that she could see "an apple's worth of the baby's head."  The only thought going through my mind when she said that was, "a crappy diabetic apple or a regular apple?"  And that, my friends, is how gestational diabetes affected me.  I just wanted to know what serving size we were talking about.  Anyhow, it was encouraging to know that my pushing was effective because I felt like I didn't know what I was doing.  My doula grabbed our camera and asked Mr. Amen if I wanted her to take pictures of the delivery.  He said, "no, she does not want pictures of this."  And he was right...I did not want pictures of that.

The doctor said I was going to tear, so she did an episiotomy.  I had been scared for so long about the pain of the actual delivery, I was surprised by how much that part didn't hurt.  There was no "ring of fire" pain or burning...in fact, I didn't even realize the baby's head was out until they told me.  The nurse and Mr. Amen repositioned me and pulled my knees way back and told me to push one more time.  With that push I delivered the shoulders and the baby slid out (a sensation I will never forget).  The doctor placed the baby on my stomach and I opened my eyes to see flailing arms and legs and to hearing my baby screaming.  I was surprised to see her there and all I said was, "there's a baby on me, there's a baby on me!"

Alice was born at 6:21pm after being at the hospital for about 4 hours.  She weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz., and was 20 1/4 inches long.

We had asked for delayed cord clamping, but the doctor wanted to cut the cord right away to give the baby to the neo-natalogist to be checked out.  Mr. Amen cut the cord and the baby was carted off.  The doctor delivered the placenta and then took her time stitching me up (ouch!!).  I had asked specifically to see the placenta (because I wanted to...I don't know why), but I didn't get to do that, the doctor discarded it immediately.  Once they got baby all cleaned up they brought her over to me so I could nurse her.

I was up off the bed within a couple hours to take a shower, feeling pretty fantastic.

That's the story of how our little girl came into this world. It's been a whirlwind since then and I have several posts in the works about all the thoughts, emotions and challenges we've met so far.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baby's Here

Our baby girl was born on August 9th at 6:21pm, 7 lbs. 11oz. 20 1/4 inches long. 

Welcome little Celia!

Birth story coming soon...I'm trying to get it down before I forget anything.  It was amazing :-)

Friday, July 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes


Here we are at the end of July and there's so much going on...I'll just give you the run down.

(1)
We are about to become a family of four.  Baby girl is due any day now (officially, August 15th) and "progress" is being made.  I had accepted that we may be a family of three and was finally OK with that outcome, so it is very surreal to me to be on the precipice of becoming a family of four.  Very strange.

(2)
Junior has always said he wanted to be a priest.  Now he thinks he may want to marry Jesse (from the To.y St.ory movies).  He's only three, so we have some time before he has to make a real decision in this department.

(3)
Work is work.  I wish I could take off some time before baby arrives, but it is not going to be possible.  There is too much work to do and I am training a new person at the same time.  It would be delightful to go into labor this weekend so as not to return to the office on Monday.  Ahhh...one can dream.

(4)
Our calendar is almost entirely clear this weekend.  I can't remember the last time we had nothing to do all weekend, but we purposefully kept it clear in case baby girl makes her grand debut.  I think Mr. Amen can't handle a "free" weekend, so he has developed an extensive "to-do list" and schedule for what we can do this weekend.  I may ignore it entirely.  Not sure yet.

(5)
Any ideas for super easy meals that can be thrown together in a crock pot or made in just a few minutes of prep time?  I have about 6 feezer meals (that serve 6 people each) stashed away...but I could stand to have a few things up my sleeve for when those meals just won't cut it.

(6)
Have I ever mentioned how much I like my OB?  I asked him if he had ever heard of sterile water injections to relieve back pain during labor and he admitted that he had never heard of them, but would be happy to learn about them.  I am sending him some information so he can read up on it.
What a cool doctor!

(7)
Speaking of a cool doctor...I also have a cool doula all lined up for the delivery.  We've had birth classes with her over the past 2 weeks and we are really glad we hired her.  She is a wealth of knowledge and very patient and reassuring.  She has me taking all sort of homeopathic "stuff" to get labor going and has me taking Red Raspberry Leaf capsules, Evening Primose Oil and a host of other stuff to get this baby out.  The urgency is that I can't really be induced because of a prior C-section.  So I have a deadline that I need to go into labor by.  All they can offer me is a little bit of pitocin to help regulate the contractions once they start going.  Come on labor!

Visit Jen for for Quick Takes and make some new cyber-friends along the way!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Killin' Me

Seriously, Hers.hey's??  You're killin' me.

I'm sitting here watching a little TV with my feet elevated to help keep the swelling at bay when a commercial comes on for Hers.hey's chocolate bars.  But not just Hers.hey's chocolate bars, it's a s'mores commercial. 

Crisp graham crackers, melty chocolate and gooey, roasted marshmallows.  I almost licked the TV.

Aren't I suffering enough?  My feelings are already hurt that I haven't gained any weight in the past 5 weeks.  I know why that is...it's because I'm hungry.  All I want is a meal that actually takes away the hunger pains.  A cup of skim milk for breakfast isn't gettin' it done.  A single PBJ for lunch with a glass of ice water isn't gettin' it done.   A salad, a mini hamburger and a half cup of mac n' cheese for dinner isn't gettin' it done.

Unless the only thing I eat is steak, steak and more steak, I can see that I'll be hungry for the next 4.5-6.5 weeks.  Is that a light I see at the end of the tunnel or is that the train barreling down on me?

But really, is the s'mores commercial necessary, Lord?  Really?

Friday, June 22, 2012





I've been away from Quick Takes for quite awhile...but I am trying to get back in the blogging habit, so here goes.

(1)
I took yesterday and today off work.  We had planned a long family weekend way back in January, but it didn't work out.  Since Mr. Amen was supposed to go to India this week for work, we "cancelled" our original plans and I made a bunch of doctor appointments yesterday instead.  Fun, fun!  We'll try again for a long weekend in July.

(2)
Speaking of three doctor appointments, I'm glad I got them all scheduled one right after the other yesterday.  First up was my 32 week appointment with the regular OB.  It wasn't my doctor, but one of his partners.  He was nice enough.  I only had one question for him about stopping the baby aspirin that I take daily.  The Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist said I would need to stop taking it by 36 weeks.  That has me pretty nervous because I attribute this pregnancy's success to God and a daily baby aspirin.  He told me the research behind this recommendation is confusing and not exactly an easy answer.  After discussing it with him, he thought I should talk about it some more with the MFM and get some clarity behind her answer.  I was reassured that if I stop, I'm still on levoxyl and that is even better than a daily baby aspirin.

(3)
Next up was the hospital for a Non-Stress Test and an ultrasound.  I got there a little early, so I did the ultrasound early.  Baby girl scored an 8 out of 8 on her bio-physical profile within 2 minutes of starting the ultrasound.  It went so fast, the tech was kind enough to just screw around getting 3-D images of her face for me.  She's a cutie-pie...looks just like Junior.

(4)
After that, I went to see the Dietician for a follow-up on how the diabetic diet is going.  I wish there was a nice way to say to a medical professional, "I am not a moron.  Please cut with the it's really complicated crap.  It's not hard.  15g of carbs = 1 unit.  I get it.  30g of carbs = 2 units, 45g = 3 units, 60g = 4 units.  Move on."  And yes, I only had 2 "bad" numbers in the past 2 weeks from eating too many carbs in one sitting.   One was after going to Olga's for dinner when our power was out.  I ate pita snackers, my Olga sandwich (with pita), then nibbled mindlessly on Junior's pita when he didn't eat it himself.  Bad number expected and explained.  The other was Father's Day breakfast, when I made pancakes for Mr. Amen and indulged my hungry self by eating 4 of them with syrup.  Even worse number expected and explained.  Puhleeeez!  I may be hungry, but I'm not stupid.

(5)
What's that you say?  I just dropped that little India bomb in the first QT and left it there.  Yes, Mr. Amen was supposed to go to India this week.  Visa delays pushed his trip back one week, so he leaves this Monday instead.  Bummer.  He's stressed about the trip; it's going to be OK.  This is really a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm excited for him.  It'll be hectic and tiring (for both him and me), but in the end, what a great item for his resume.  Plus, I've asked for a Sari (spelling?), no idea how you spell it, but I want an outfit.

(6)
Since I had the day off work, I kept my little monkey home with me for the day.  We went to see Grandmama and Papapa, went to the grocery store and then came home where he ate a Soy Nut Butter & Jelly sandwich, a banana and a York Peppermint Patty.  Now he's dressed as a superhero watching the gutter cleaning and bleaching guy do his thing outside.  Too cute!
Forgive the poor quality, camera phone doing duty.

(7)
After all this pregnancy talk, you should at least get a picture of my giant belly.  I think I've dropped because I can breathe much easier, but at 32 weeks, that's a little early.  Anyhow, my stretchmarks have stretchmarks and my skin feels like it's about to burst and baby girl seems to be trying to come out the top.  I just keep telling her to "keep [her] arms and legs inside the uterus at all times."  But I don't think she's listening.
Again, forgive the poor quality and the mess in the background.

Go visit Jen for more QuickTakes.  Such fun reading through everyone's posts - there are some really creative folks out there and great new friends to be made.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pregnancy Update - GD


This pregnancy is going well.  I’ve been tired, but still able to get up every day and get to work.  I’ve been sick, but still able to make dinners most days.  I’ve been crabby, but not too much worse than usual. :-)

With Junior, I developed Gestatio.nal Diabe.tes (“GD”).  I spent the last 2.5 months of the pregnancy hungry.  I did a pretty good job of controlling my blood sugars with diet and exercise alone.  And let me tell you, even though I LOVE me some food, I’ll happily give up food if it means I don’t have to exercise.  Because I HATE me some exercise.  It was a miserable autumn for me in Michigan with the restricted diet.  Autumn is my favorite food time of the year…all the apples, apple pie, caramel apples, cider, Thanksgiving food, comfort food…mmm, my mouth just started watering while I was typing that list.  And I couldn’t eat any of it.

With this pregnancy, I started the diabetic diet right away.  I started testing my blood sugars around 13 weeks and was pleasantly surprised to see them all in the “normal” range they recommend during pregnancy.  I also had a 3 hour glucose tolerance test around 17 weeks and I passed the test…barely.  After several weeks, I stopped testing because my readings were normal and test strips are expensive so I didn’t want to waste them.  Then, around 27 weeks I went in for the one-hour glucose test.  I failed.  By A LOT.  My levels needed to be 129 or below.  I got 158.  Yikes!

My doctor ordered another 3 hour test to confirm GD, but I declined and asked them to just assume that I have it and move on.  So I avoided the “pain” of the 3 hour test, but was sent immediately for a consult with a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist.  Oh, and an appointment with the Diab.etes Counselor.   Fun, Fun.

I had my appointment with the MFM doctor this week and it started with a nearly hour long ultrasound.  Normally, I would be thrilled to get to peer at baby girl for that long, but my belly is really sore and having that ultrasound wand pressed all over for an hour was unpleasant to put it mildly.  Baby girl looked good…they were spending a lot of time on her heart which got me a little freaked out, but they said her heart is fine, it’s just difficult to get good images this far along in the pregnancy.  She is a wiggly little thing though, so they also had a hard time getting good measurements because she wouldn’t hold still.  After the ultrasound, I spoke with the doctor who wanted me to start either insulin at night or an oral medication to help control my morning sugars which are about 15-20 points higher than they’d like them.  Oral medication, please?  She wrote the script and sent me for my non-stress test.  Ah, the non-stress test.  Sat back, feet up, monitors on, button in hand to press when baby girl moves.  That’s the life.  I could even watch TV while they do it.  So pleasant.

Then out to scheduling.  I had forgotten how many appointments are necessary when they diagnose GD.  I am currently 30 weeks pregnant.  I need to go once a week for a non-stress test and an ultrasound biophysical profile of baby until I reach 32 weeks…then I go twice a week.  Plus my regular OB appointments.  Plus work, if I can manage to squeeze it in.

The next day I went for my diabetes counselor appointment.  I didn’t need a monitor or instructions on how to use one since I already have one and know how to use it.  So I only had to meet with the counselor for a refresher on how to determine the amount of carbs in any given food item and go over diet.  The counselor was very nice and went over my history, food allergies, food preferences and self-imposed restrictions with me.  Then she crafted a “custom” meal plan for me.  I say “custom” because there was nothing custom about it.  She managed to include all the foods I am allergic to despite our having JUST TALKED ABOUT MY ALLERGIES.  She gave me a very generous 3 units of carbs at breakfast, which I had just told her I couldn’t eat that many first thing in the morning because my sugars are too high in the morning already and if I eat more than 1 carb unit my after breakfast sugars are too high.  Oh well, I decided to ignore it and just take the plan and leave.  Now I am supposed to keep a food journal for her with the time I ate, what I ate, how much I ate and my sugars in the journal.  I also have to keep my sugars on a separate journal for her.  And I have a third journal of my sugars for the MFM specialist that has to be faxed to her every Monday morning.

I also had been keeping my sugars on an electronic app on my phone.  I hate to give that up as it gives me cool graphs, averages over the day, week, month, etc.  Who knew I would get so into journaling during this pregnancy?!?!  I sure didn’t.  I don’t think I will.

I am likely to just do the best I can on diet (it’s been good so far) and just fill in whatever the counselor wants to see on the food journal.  I’ll say I ate whatever she wants me to eat.  As long as my numbers stay in the right range and my weight gain doesn’t get out of control…I’ll be fine.  As for the 2 sugar journals…I’ll fill out the one from the MFM doctor…and the counselor will just have to get used to it.  The counselor actually said hers is easier because it is two sided…I laughed…our fax machine doesn’t do two sided faxes, so how is that easier?  Whatever.

I took the prescription for the oral medication to the pharmacy to be filled.  I told them I'd wait for it and they said it'd be ready in 15 minutes.  Forty-five minutes later, they finally called me up to the counter to ask me if I am pregnant.  I looked down at my gigantic 30+ week belly, that looks extremely full-term, then looked back at her and said, "yes." She then asked how far along I was and if my doctor knows about the pregnancy because the medication shouldn't be taken within 2 weeks of delivery.  Yes, yes, my doctor who wrote the prescription, on the prescription pad that says "Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist", knows I am pregnant.  She even knows how far along I am if you can believe it!  I went through this same conversation with the pharmacist when I took the same medicine at the same point in my first pregnancy.  I know they are trying to be helpful, but what I really find helpful is people paying attention.  Just try it, you may like it.

So here I am, hungry again.  At least it is during the summer when my sole temptation is frozen custard at my favorite frozen custard place.  And that restriction is only in effect until I deliver, hopefully early, at the end of July or early August because I just don’t want to go all the way to August 15th!  So I’ll still get to have my frozen custard this summer.